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Mobile data satisfaction plummets in SA

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The latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) for Mobile Data Service Providers reveals that South African consumers express low levels of loyalty to their mobile data service providers and are generally disappointed with the service they receive from them.

Customer loyalty trends have shown a consistent decline over the past three annual indices, with the industry average declining from 71.1% in 2014 to 59.2% in 2016.

MTN’s customers show the lowest loyalty to their brand with a score of 54.7%, down almost 10% from 2015, followed by Telkom Mobile at 59.2% compared to 67.7% last year. Cell C and Vodacom compare well with the customer loyalty industry average (59.2%) with scores of 61% and 61.6% respectively, albeit low in comparison to other industries measured in the SAcsi.

“South Africans are limited to a handful of mobile data service providers who are among the most expensive in the world. This frustration is evident in the ongoing #DataMustFall movement that adds impetus to the views that South Africans have held for years: they feel ripped off by high data costs, and will move to a more cost-effective service provider without hesitation,” says Prof Adré Schreuder, CEO of Consulta.

This is further indicated in the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is calculated as the difference between the percentage of promoters or customers who recommended your brand, and detractors or customers who did not recommend your brand. The NPS yielded an industry average of 1%. Telkom received the lowest sentiment with a score of -9%, followed closely by MTN at -4% with Cell C narrowly above the industry average at 2%. Vodacom received a score of 9%.

The 2016 SAcsi for Mobile Data Service Providers benchmarks customer satisfaction through an internationally recognised model to achieve an overall result out of 100. The index provides a weighted average of the various aspects of a customer’s experience with the mobile data service provider, and the degree to which the product or service has met, fallen short of, or exceeded their expectations.

The data returned in this index reveals some of the lowest sets of scores across the SAcsi industries surveyed by Consulta this year.

The average industry score for the 2016 SAcsi Mobile Data Service Providers is 67.8 out of a score of 100. A score below 70 on the SAcsi is deemed low. The SAcsi score has continued declining over the past three years, this year MTN received the lowest score at 65.9 followed by Cell C (66.2), Telkom Mobile (68.2), with Vodacom marginally leading the industry average with a score of 69.7.

When it comes to customer expectations, the index reveals Vodacom customers expect the most of their supplier with a score of 76.0, above the industry average of 74.2. Telkom Mobile and MTN are on par with the industry average while Cell C customers expect a lower level of service at 70.4.

Looking at the ability of mobile network providers to deliver the services they promise, Cell C came the closest to delivering on this. Cell C also obtained the lowest percentage of customer complaints and the highest score for successfully handling customer problems and complaints. Telkom Mobile and MTN customers experienced the largest service delivery gap, indicating that these service providers are not living up to customer’s expectations to the degree that Cell C customers reported.

“It seems that Cell C is the only brand not creating unrealistic expectations that they are unable to meet,” says Schreuder. “Telkom Mobile’s low score may be linked to its recent uncapped LTE promotion, which it released without fully explaining the fair-use policy attached to the offer.”

The provision of mobile data is a fast moving and highly competitive industry. The service provider that is able to address the reasons for the continuous decline in customer satisfaction and service delivery, will be able minimise customer churn and regain customer loyalty.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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Crouching Yeti strikes

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Kaspersky Lab has uncovered infrastructure used by the Russian-speaking APT group Crouching Yeti, also known as Energetic Bear, which includes compromised servers across the world.

According to the research, numerous servers in different countries were hit since 2016, sometimes in order to gain access to other resources. Others, including those hosting Russian websites, were used as watering holes.

Crouching Yeti is a Russian-speaking advanced persistent threat (APT) group that Kaspersky Lab has been tracking since 2010. It is best known for targeting industrial sectors around the world, with a primary focus on energy facilities, for the main purpose of stealing valuable data from victim systems. One of the techniques the group has been widely using is through watering hole attacks: the attackers injected websites with a link redirecting visitors to a malicious server.

Recently Kaspersky Lab has discovered a number of servers, compromised by the group, belonging to different organisations based in Russia, the U.S., Turkey and European countries, and not limited to industrial companies. According to researchers, they were hit in 2016 and 2017 with different purposes. Thus, besides watering hole, in some cases they were used as intermediaries to conduct attacks on other resources.

In the process of analysing infected servers, researchers identified numerous websites and servers used by organisations in Russia, U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America that the attackers had scanned with various tools, possibly to find a server that could be used to establish a foothold for hosting the attackers’ tools and to subsequently develop an attack. Some of the sites scanned may have been of interest to the attackers as candidates for waterhole. The range of websites and servers that captured the attention of the intruders is extensive. Kaspersky Lab researchers found that the attackers had scanned numerous websites of different types, including online stores and services, public organisations, NGOs, manufacturing, etc.

Also, experts found that the group used publicly available malicious tools, designed for analyzing servers, and for seeking out and collecting information. In addition, a modified sshd file with a preinstalled backdoor was discovered. This was used to replace the original file and could be authorised with a ‘master password’.

“Crouching Yeti is a notorious Russian-speaking group that has been active for many years and is still successfully targeting industrial organisations through watering hole attacks, among other techniques. Our findings show that the group compromised servers not only for establishing watering holes, but also for further scanning, and they actively used open-sourced tools that made it much harder to identify them afterwards,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Head of Vulnerability Research Group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT.

“The group’s activities, such as initial data collection, the theft of authentication data, and the scanning of resources, are used to launch further attacks. The diversity of infected servers and scanned resources suggests the group may operate in the interests of the third parties,” he added.

Kaspersky Lab recommends that organisations implement a comprehensive framework against advanced threats comprising of dedicated security solutions for targeted attack detection and incident response, along with expert services and threat intelligence. As a part of Kaspersky Threat Management and Defense, our anti-targeted attack platform detects an attack at early stages by analysing suspicious network activity, while Kaspersky EDR brings improved endpoint visibility, investigation capabilities and response automation. These are enhanced with global threat intelligence and Kaspersky Lab’s expert services with specialisation in threat hunting and incident response.

More details on this recent Crouching Yeti activity can be found on the Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT website.

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